U.S. BANK CAMPAIGN PROMOTES MONIKER GAINED VIA MERGER

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U.S. Bank, until last year known as First Bank Systems, is hailing its new identity in an 11-state ad campaign featuring celebrities who changed their own names.

The outdoor, print and TV campaign will run mainly in the Midwest and shows images of George Burns, Marilyn Monroe and Babe Ruth to suggest that a change in name can be a good thing.

"When Norma Jeane became Marilyn Monroe, everything changed for the better," said Tom Weyl, president-chief creative officer at agency Martin/Williams, Minneapolis.

$15 MIL AD BUDGET

U.S. Bank will spend an estimated $15 million on advertising this year.

Mr. Weyl likened the look and feel of the advertising to the A&E documentary series "Biography."

The bank decided to change its name after acquiring U.S. Bancorp, Portland, Ore., to reflect its national ambitions and to set itself apart from many such institutions using "First" in their names.

It's unusual but not unheard of for an acquiring bank to take on the name of its prey; after Chemical Bank took over Chase Manhattan Bank in 1995, it kept the Chase name because of its rich history.

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